LOS ANGELES (AP) Jordan Hill did it at both ends of the court Sunday night against the Orlando Magic, putting together his own personal highlight reel in a season during which there haven’t been many of those for himself or the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hill had a career-high 28 points along with 13 rebounds in his first start in over nine weeks and the Lakers beat Orlando 103-94, sending the Magic to their ninth straight loss.
”You’ve got to be ready because you never know when your number will be called to step in there in the starting lineup,” said Hill, who got the news that he would start from coach Mike D’Antoni at the morning shootaround. ”Just went out there and played hard, playing aggressively and played my game. I felt like nobody could stop me.
”My mindset out there was that nobody could keep me off the offensive boards and nobody could keep me from the rim.”
Nick Young scored 26 points off the bench, helping the Lakers end a four-game skid.
Pau Gasol had six points in 18 minutes, and sat out the second half after feeling nauseous and dizzy. A Lakers spokesperson said after the game that Gasol would spend the night in a hospital for observation.
Steve Nash, who had 11 assists in 19 minutes off the bench Friday night against Washington after missing the previous 15 games because of chronic nerve damage in his back, did not play. The 40-year-old two-time MVP has been limited to just 11 games all season because of his condition.
Xavier Henry, who was back in the lineup for just nine games after missing 28 because of a bone bruise on his right knee, was sidelined again after tearing a ligament in his left wrist in the loss to the Wizards. He will be re-examined Monday.
The Lakers (23-46) have to go no worse than 8-5 the rest of the way to avoid tying the 1974-75 squad for the worst record since the franchise relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960-61. But eight games on their remaining schedule are against teams that currently are over .500.
”We’re playing for pride,” Hill said. ”I mean, we’re still the Lakers. We’re definitely one of the top organizations in the league, if not the best. So we have to take a stand for ourselves. We can’t quit and we’ve got to keep fighting.”
Orlando point guard Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in the draft, had 21 points and 10 assists in his eighth career start while Jameer Nelson missed his third straight game with a sore left knee. Aaron Afflalo scored 18 points for the Magic, one night after they lost 89-88 at Utah on a 3-pointer by Trey Burke with 1.6 seconds remaining.
”They had some bigs that were playing extremely aggressive at the rim,” Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. ”I think Hill had an impact on the game with his energy and effort. It was through dunks, offensive rebounds, rolling to the rim and putting the ball back in. He gave his team some edge tonight.”
The Magic have lost 23 of their last 24 road games – the only exception a 101-90 win against Philadelphia on Feb. 26.
”We’re not building for next year yet,” Vaughn said. ”We’ve still got some games to go, but what I do see is our guys getting better.”
The Lakers led throughout the second half, but never led by double digits. Orlando got as close as 83-80 on a 15-footer by Afflalo, but the Lakers converted 13 of 14 free throws over the final 5:18 to put it away. Young’s 3-pointer was their only field goal during the final 8 minutes.
Hill, making his first start since Jan. 17, paced Los Angeles to a 55-48 halftime lead with 14 points and six rebounds. The Lakers converted seven Orlando turnovers into nine points during the first 5:03 and took a 25-17 lead on a four-point play by Young, his franchise-record fifth of the season and eighth by the team – also a franchise best.
”Rest definitely helped a lot,” said Hill, who missed six games earlier this month because of a sore right knee. ”I felt like I could jump over the gym, jump over anything. I just felt more mobile and was able to move quicker. I was definitely able to get up and get rebounds and move my feet on defense.”
NOTES: Orlando faced Los Angeles in the NBA finals just five years ago, losing in five games. But the Magic are 39-113 since the start of last season after firing Stan Van Gundy and trading three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard to the Lakers – and are one of only four teams that have a worse record than the Lakers this season. … A loss Tuesday night at home against Portland would give Orlando two double-digit losing streaks in the same season for the third time in the franchise’s 25-year history. It also happened last season and in 2003-04. The Magic have seven of those streaks altogether. … The Lakers failed to sell out for the sixth time. … The Magic fell to 0-30 on the road when trailing after three quarters. … This was the Magic’s final road game against Western Conference opponents. They were 0-15. … The Magic, who came in 0-33 when they get outrebounded, won the battle of the boards 46-34.